At Home with Tech

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Category: Technology

Why my Son Prefers Star Trek: Strange New Worlds over Obi-Wan Kenobi

My dusty Star Trek and Star Wars toys have been waiting for years for the next generation to choose a champion. That moment has finally arrived.

I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’ve spent years unsuccessfully trying to introduce my 12-year-old son to the vast Star Trek universe.

First, I offered a couple of the original episodes. Way too slow. Then, I served up the Kelvin timeline with the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ movie. It didn’t stick. My boy didn’t want to go further “Into Darkness.”

“Discovery” and “Picard,” the two new Star Trek series on Paramount+ weren’t at all designed for him simply because of all those damn swear words. I didn’t even make the attempt.

I’m a life-long Trekkie, and I’ve been unable to pass the torch.

Family-Friendly Star Trek
Then, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” came out, and I watched the first couple of episodes. I was in shock. Could it be? Could this new series really be okay for kids to watch? Was this the moment I’d been waiting for all of my adult life?

I sat down with my wife and son on a Sunday night after dinner and nervously played the premiere for them. They were both skeptical.
(My wife was never a big Star Trek fan.)

The episode ended, and I stared at both of them. They each displayed a Vulcan look of mild satisfaction. They agreed to watch another episode. My hopes were bolstered.

The New Adventures of Ben Kenobi
But the next time we came together to watch a show, I really wanted to see the new “Obi-Wan Kenobi” series on Disney+. So we watched that two-part premiere. I certainly enjoyed this new Star Wars entry, but it was arguably a bit sluggish out of the gate with a slow build. (I did love that reveal shot of the light saber on Obi-Wan’s waist at the end of episode 2.)

I performed the same ‘Lester-insta-poll,’ and received a similar response. Good, though not crazy good.

Padawan or Cadet?
The third family screening would tell all as our son had been given the power to choose what to watch next. (We rotate that honor between the three of us.)

“Strange New Worlds” or “Obi-Wan-Kenobi?”

I could barely look at him.

I’d been waiting my whole life to again experience “Star Trek” through the eyes of a child. I still remember as a kid being blown away by the storytelling of the original series. That’s what always differentiated “Star Trek” from other sci-fi. It was so character-driven. Serious… and fun. And yes, occasionally even funny.

And then I watched as other sci-fi franchises muscled their way to the top of the public’s preference. Marvel and Star Wars. Of course.

I must admit that Marvel has really earned it. Movie after movie. They’ve barely stumbled. And then the expansion on Disney+. It’s impressive. Most impressive.

Yes, I think more impressive than Star Wars, simply because the entire body of work from that universe is uneven. Still, that galaxy far, far away is far from losing its grip on this planet.

And I know that has a lot to do with Darth Vader.

The Enduring Power of Vader
I remember seeing “The Return of the Jedi” at the Ziegfeld theater in New York City back in 1983. The giant theater was packed with kids munching on popcorn. And then there was the big moment towards the end of the movie when Emperor Palpatine was zapping Luke with dark Force lightning. Then, the camera shot cut to Darth Vader watching Luke’s apparent end.

Suddenly I sensed a huge wave of emotion flow throughout the young audience. Then the sound. It was a combination of hundreds of gasps and a few screams. Some kids just yelled.

The shot cut back to Luke writhing in pain. The audience’s roar of emotion increased.

And then back to Anakin staring at his son.

The entire theater exploded. The chorus of every kid there screaming at Vader to do the right thing.

Whoa.

Yes, Star Wars endures because we love to watch that struggle between the dark and the light. And who better represents that than our fallen friend Anakin?

The Federation Wins
Fast forward four decades, and Disney+ is now serving up a lot more Anakin/Vader.

But that’s only teased at the end of episode two of “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

So when my boy has the foundational choice between watching the best of Starfleet or a fallen Jedi, he goes with… Star Trek!

I have to admit, it wasn’t really a fair fight because of the timing, but I still relished the victory.

Finally.

For the past few weeks, my son has consistently asked for more “Strange New Worlds” episodes. I think I can safely say we are officially now a “Star Trek” family!
(My wife is enjoying the series with us as well.)

It all comes down to great storytelling and character development.

Always.

At the beginning of every “Strange New Worlds” episode, there’s that short sequence where the Enterprise takes a few colorful victory laps before the Star Trek logo settles.

Yep, I’d say they’ve earned it.

Never Dismiss the Power of the Force
We eventually got around to watching episode 3 of “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” And I observed my son during the Darth Vader scenes. The James Earl Jones voice. The iconic breathing. The sheer power of the dark side.

My boy was mesmerized. He then started to mimic the breathing. And I saw the smile on his face.

Yep, even after 40 years, some things don’t change.

Hit It!
But a heathy dose of Vader in episode 3 doesn’t change the fact that “Star Trek” has finally beat out “Star Wars” in the Lester household.

I’ve been playing the long game, and it’s finally paid off. Thank you, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” You’ve got a lock on the Lester family.

The torch has finally been passed.

Pro Packing Tips for your Vacation Tech

Joining this Colgate University reunion torchlight ceremony with hundreds of other alumni after a two-year delay was especially meaningful. Packing my tech for this weekend trip took a bit longer than I expected. If it’s been a while since your last vacation, you might also need a refresher on packing your gear. Here are my top tips…

Going on vacation again with my family after more than two years into this pandemic has been amazing. Our recent New Orleans trip and drive to our college reunion weekend both felt like the good old days.

But my packing powers were a bit rusty. Sure, I brought the right clothes (mostly), but when it came to certain peripheral supports for my tech, I didn’t score 100%.

If you feel you could also benefit from a few reminders, here are my pro packing tips for your tech.

Remember to Take a Small Power Strip
It’s rare to find enough plugs in your room to charge your tech when you’re on vacation. I find it especially helpful to set up a charging station using a small power strip with a short extension cord. (Plus, it’s so easy to pack.)

The mini power strip also keeps all of your charging cables in one place and reduces the chance that you’ll leave anything behind.

Carry a Peak Design Backpack as a Personal Item on your Flight
If you’re planning on flying with your camera and travel tripod, and you want to pack it into a bag that will fit under the plane seat in front of you (as a personal item), you’d better pull out a tape measure and start measuring dimensions. No matter what, it’s going to be tight!

For our New Orleans vacation, I bought a Peak Design V2 30L Everyday Backpack. It just barely squeezed in on board both flights, but it did! (phew)

And then this knapsack was the perfect travel companion on my back as we walked about New Orleans.

Pack a Thermos with Tomorrow Morning’s Coffee
I’m an early riser and always like to have my first cup of coffee as soon as I get up. If you’ve driven somewhere where breakfast doesn’t start for another hour or two, you might be out of luck finding an immediate cup of Joe. But not if you already have your coffee with you!

I brewed a pot of Peet’s Major Dickenson’s coffee right before we drove to our Colgate reunion, poured it into my hi-tech Yeti thermos and then packed it in the car. Early, the next morning, I unscrewed the top of the thermos, lifted it to my face and was delighted to still sense faint warmth. No, my coffee wasn’t at all hot anymore, but it was absolutely fine for this need.

Use your Apple Watch as a Silent Wake-Up Alarm
If you’re thinking of ditching your Apple Watch on your next family trip, don’t!

Whenever my family is sleeping in the same room on vacation, I don’t want to wake everyone up with my early alarm on my iPhone. That’s when I continue to wear my Apple Watch during the overnight hours. Its silent, vibration-only morning alarm is perfect for this purpose. A little haptic action on my wrist is all I need to start my day.

One thing… I normally charge up my Apple Watch at night. So if that doesn’t happen, I have to remember to immediately do it before breakfast.

Bring your Apple TV
If you want your hotel room TV to mirror the streaming options on your home TV, packing your little Apple TV puck just might do the trick. Just connect your Apple TV to the hotel’s Wi-Fi and the TV’s HDMI cable.

I’ve found this kind of MacGyver maneuver works best with less advanced hotel Wi-Fi systems that don’t require signing in with anything more than a password. If you’ve got to first navigate through a hotel web portal to sign in, the Apple TV will get stuck.

Write Down your Streaming Apps’ Passwords
If you don’t end up taking your streaming puck on vacation, you might be surprised to find one already connected to your hotel room TV. (That’s what we found in our New Orleans B&B.) If that’s the case, all you have to do is sign into your streaming accounts. Of course, you’ll need your passwords for that!

And when you’re packing up to leave, don’t forget to sign out of your streaming apps!

Travel Back to the Future
Going on vacation again can be a big step towards returning to the normal patterns of life. And if playing with your tech is part of your vacation fun, then I say bring it and enjoy!

Summer Joy

Driving in the heat can be a slog. But not for a dog in the back seat with the window down. This is the face of delight.

Bliss. Glee. Elation. Call it what you will. Happiness should be a four-season pursuit. But summertime has unique attributes that can make it especially appealing.

As we are enter another cycle of summer months, I thought I’d share a few of my photos that attempt to capture the many aspects of summer joy.

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